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Great Hearts Academies engages Dr. Karen Williams to support Title I expansion efforts

Great Hearts Academies engages Dr. Karen Williams to support Title I expansion efforts

Great Hearts Academies today announced that Dr. Karen Williams, a veteran education leader and former superintendent of the Alhambra School District in Phoenix will join the organization as Vice President of Teleos Preparatory Academy Expansion; Teleos Prep is one of Great Hearts Academies’ Title I schools, serving grades K-8 in downtown Phoenix.

“We are so pleased to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Williams and incorporate her expertise into Great Hearts’ efforts to serve more students in urban neighborhoods,” shared Great Hearts CEO Erik Twist. “Dr. Williams has a wealth of experience in education, particularly in inner-city settings, and has demonstrated her commitment to this critical work. We look forward to her insights and wisdom in a range of areas as we continue to deliver an unparalleled education to Arizona students.”


Dr. Karen Williams

Williams will lend support to Teleos Headmaster Christina Lucas-Sheffield, who joined Great Hearts in 2012, and previously taught and served as assistant headmaster at Teleos. Mrs. Lucas-Sheffield was named headmaster in May 2015 when her predecessor Brian Taylor transitioned with Great Hearts to focus exclusively on leading efforts to further expand into disadvantaged communities.

Great Hearts Academies is a nonprofit network of academically rigorous, classical, liberal arts schools founded in Phoenix, Arizona. The network will serve more than 10,000 students at 22 academies across the Phoenix-metropolitan area in the 2015-16 school year, offering a tuition-free preparatory education to students from every background, encouraging them to be well-rounded, critical-thinking, focused and mature graduates.

Karen Williams Bio:

Dr. Williams received her Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Education in Leadership degrees from Arizona State University. She has been in education for 37 years and served the Alhambra Elementary School District, a diverse inner-city district in the metropolitan Phoenix area, for 19 years.  She served as Alhambra’s Superintendent from 2010 through her retirement in 2015. Prior to becoming Superintendent, she served as a Principal, Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services and Assistant Superintendent.

Throughout her educational career, Dr. Williams received numerous awards including the National Distinguished Principal Award; the MetLife Foundation National Bridge Builders Award for Outstanding Success in Connecting School and Community; and an Award of Excellence from the Arizona School Public Relations Association for the Parents as Partners Conference and Community Expo. Dr. Williams was awarded the 2011 Maricopa County Branch NAACP Educator Award; and most recently was named the 2014 Administrator of the Year by the Arizona Technology in Education Association.

Christina Lucas-Sheffield Bio:

Christina Lucas-Sheffield was appointed headmaster of Teleos Preparatory Academy in 2015 after serving as the academy’s assistant headmaster and teaching third, fifth and sixth grade classes. Mrs. Lucas-Sheffield earned a bachelor’s degree in pre-law and women’s studies from Michigan State University and a master’s in elementary education from Arizona State University. She served as a 2012 Teach for America Corps Member and was awarded a Teach for America-Arizona State University Fellowship to complete her graduate degree.

About Teleos Prep:

Teleos Preparatory Academy is a public charter school and one of 22 high-performing Great Hearts Academies in the Phoenix-metropolitan area. The teachers and leadership team at Teleos Prep serve 250 students in grades K-8 who are a 92% minority, 83% Title 1 population, many of whom come from a disadvantaged socioeconomic background.

In 2006, Teleos Prep became the first public school to bring a tuition-free classical, liberal arts education to the families of Downtown and South Phoenix. As a result of strategic interventions, 83% of Teleos students identified as “likely to fail” Arizona state assessments passed them during the 2014-15 school year. For the past three years, Teleos Prep has enjoyed a high level of stability, teacher retention, and student matriculation through the rigorous Great Hearts program.

About Great Hearts Academies:

A Great Hearts education transforms students into leaders who are prepared for the 21st century. We do this by teaching the skills necessary for success: the ability to innovate through creativity, the ability to communicate clearly, the ability to apply critical thought through analysis and questioning the world around us, and through building virtue and character in order to demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity.

More than 95% of Great Hearts graduates immediately attend four-year colleges and universities and 55% of graduates choose a STEM major in college. With an average SAT score of 1820, our students score 300 points above the national average. Though a fully open-enrollment public school with no academic entrance criteria, Great Hearts ranks in the top 1% of Arizona schools.